Most recently having worked for three years with the Arizona State University women’s basketball team, basketball always is on my brain. At St. Thomas, while I embarked a year ago on a new higher education career path – Student Affairs – you still will find me using basketball analogies because I believe the academic year is much like that of a basketball game.
Off-season/pre-season: After successfully graduating another class of Tommies who will go out into the world and make a difference, there comes a summer lull. Other students have left for their summer breaks, whether it be studying abroad, an internship or job, taking a class or just relaxing. We all know how quiet it gets on campus during the summer, and I miss the constant buzz of students – much like I feel after March Madness. Just as basketball has its “off-season” in which teams prepare for the next season, summer is when my Student Affairs colleagues and I prepare for yet another great year in which we will provide programs and support to our wonderful students here at St. Thomas. It’s our own “off-season.”
Warm-Up: Slowly but surely, student leaders return to campus in August for the Fall Leadership Institute and a variety of specialty training programs for resident assistants, Linkages, Tommie Ambassadors and many more areas.
Introductions: During Father Dease’s Move-In Day, the “returners” welcome the “incomers.” First-year students meet their roommates and get to know others in their halls. The introductions continue with the March Through the Arches, new student convocation, the president’s academic convocation, opening Mass, and the interfaith blessing and picnic. What a grand introduction our students have, and they are ready to immerse themselves in the community and their college careers.
First half (fall semester): This is my favorite time of year as the campus comes alive with energy! We start with a plethora of activities during Welcome Week. Students are excited to see old friends and make new ones, and the campus buzzes all hours of the day.
Timeouts: Fall break and Thanksgiving allow us to catch our breath and get re-energized for the remaining days of the semester so we can pull strongly through final exams. (Spring break is our big timeout in March, although I’m not quite sure students get the rest they need ☺.)
Halftime: The holidays, and for many students January Term, provides a nice, long breather – unless, of course, you decide to take or teach courses, study abroad or take a VISION trip. We also use this time to prepare for the rest of the school year.
Second half (spring semester): We push ourselves to the limit and improve on our first-half performance. The end is in sight and the seniors are focused and ready to win that championship . . . or get that degree! Others are setting themselves up for success in the seasons to come, always assisted by their coaches in the classroom and in Student Affairs.
Then the off-season and pre-season training begins – again!
As you can see, working in Student Affairs really isn’t that different than working in college basketball. We share in the peaks and valleys and celebrate our successes at the end of the year. There is nothing more I love than to share in those successes and in the achievements of our amazing students.
It was a pleasure to get to know many students, staff and faculty during my “rookie,” or “freshman,” year and I look forward to many new memories.
Here’s to another great year . . . Go Tommies!